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My husband Jack is affectionately called “Soup Guy” by his friends.  While most of them show up with beer, or ribs, or some other sort of ‘guy food’ when they get together to watch a football game – Jack shows up with a pot of soup – and his buddies love him for it!

I learned about Jack and his Soup Guy reputation very early on in our relationship.  So when Valentine’s Day came along about a month after we started dating, I decided to give him a soup cookbook as a gift.  This recipe for Minestrone Soup is one of the first that he made from that book, Book of Soups: More than 100 Recipes for Perfect Soups (Culinary Institute of America), and our adapted recipe here has become one of our favorite soups ever since.

Starting with a delicious chicken stock, this minestrone has great flavor from a variety of vegetables including cabbage, carrots, leeks, onion, tomato, chick peas and kidney beans.  But we think this soup is really special thanks to the addition of pancetta, a piece of rind from a round of parmesan cheese, and a little bit of pesto – all of these add some wonderful flavors, making this the perfect minestrone soup.



  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 servings


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce pancetta chopped
  • 1 ½ cups green cabbage chopped
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 leek, white part only, cleaned and chopped
  • ½ cup onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup chopped, drained plum tomatoes
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • ½ cup diced potato
  • 1 ounce parmesan cheese rind
  • 3 ounces vermicelli or angel hair pasta, broken into 2 inch pieces (3/4 cup)
  • ¼ cup drained chick peas
  • 1/3 cup drained kidney beans
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese as needed


  1. Heat olive oil in heavy bottom stock pot over medium high heat and add pancetta. Cook just until the fat renders off the pancetta (do not brown), approximately 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add in cabbage, carrots, leeks, onions and garlic and sauté for five minutes.
  3. Add in chopped tomatoes and sauté for an additional two minutes.
  4. Add in chicken stock, potato and Parmesan cheese rind.
  5. Simmer for 25-30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  6. Cook the pasta according to package directions, cool and set aside.
  7. To the soup, add the cooked pasta, chick peas, kidney beans and pesto.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan cheese and crusty bread.

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